National Gold Medal Award

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The National Gold Medal Awards are governed and managed by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association, and proudly sponsored by Musco Lighting.

Watch the March 9 Virtual Recording of the 2021 National Gold Medal Question & Answer Session.

ABOUT - National Gold Medal Award Program

The National Gold Medal Award honors public park and recreation agencies and state park systems throughout the United States and armed forces recreation programs worldwide that demonstrate excellence in long-range planning, resource management and innovative approaches to delivering superb park and recreation services with fiscally sound business practices.

"The Gold Medal provides independent validation that we are serving our community at the highest and most innovative levels in our field. It is source of pride for our employees, appointed park board, elected officials, and community." Michael Klitzing, Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation, Indiana 2020 Grand Plaque Recipient

The National Gold Medal Award Program is governed and administered by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA) in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). The National Gold Medal Award Program is sponsored by Musco Lighting, LLC.

The 2022 Gold Medal Award Program applications will open in January and the tentative deadline is March 25, 2022, 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

Each completed application is independently judged by a panel of five (5) park and recreation professionals selected by AAPRA based upon their management experience, size and type of agency, geographic location, and diversity. From the pool of applications, the judges select four (4) agencies in each population category, armed forces, and state parks as a Finalist.

"The Gold Medal Award is a tool to encourage and recognize the leadership and quality of park and recreation professionals across the country." Heather Shuke-Nelson, Florida State Parks 2019 State Park Grand Plaque Recipient

The four (4) Finalists in each category are announced at the end of April. The Finalist and Grand Plaque Awards are then presented at the NRPA Annual Park & Recreation Conference in September.


View 2021 presentation here

View 2020 virtual presentation here


Disqualification and Revocation

AAPRA reserves the right to disqualify a National Gold Medal Award application if in AAPRA’s sole discretion it determines that the application does not contain truthful information, is contrary to the standards or policies of AAPRA, or violates applicable laws, or if the agency has acted contrary to the standards or policies of AAPRA, or violated applicable law or could reflect negatively on AAPRA, the National Gold Medal Program, its partner NRPA and the national sponsor, Musco Lighting, LLC.

AAPRA reserves the right to revoke any Finalist or Grand Plaque Gold Medal award if in AAPRA’s sole discretion, it determines that the agency acted contrary to the standards or policies of AAPRA or acted in violation of applicable laws or could reflect negatively on AAPRA.


If you have questions about this award or the application process, please direct them to goldmedal@aapra.org.

The National Gold Medal Awards are Proudly Sponsored by Musco Lighting.